5 Everyday Uses for Paracord

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Paracord. You’ve probably seen it in countless EDCs (they’re almost ubiquitous in outdoorsy ones) in various shapes, colors, and sizes. It’s the community’s favorite cordage, found in the form of lanyards, bracelets, keychains, and much more. In this Carry Smarter guide, you’ll learn more about what paracord is, what makes its ideal for EDC, and some great ways to incorporate some into your everyday carry.

Some background on EDC’s favorite cordage…

550 Parachute cord, more commonly shortened as paracord, is widely used in tons of everyday carry situations. The “550” is derived from the fact that it’s rated to hold 550 lbs.

Paracord is a slim nylon rope with 7-9 inner strands of nylon. Composed of 2-3 threads, the inner strands and can be unraveled for many different uses.

This versatile material was originally used for suspension lines on parachutes. It’s been issued to several military branches due to its versatility in a variety of situations. Paracord was even used by astronauts to help repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

The cord was strictly used in the military, but after World War II it became available to civilians as military surplus. Since its release to the public, paracord has been used for a variety of survival, retention, and rigging applications.

There are several different types of paracord out there, the best of which is MILSPEC rated. This type has a stronger inner core with more strands inside.

5 Reasons to Carry Paracord

  1. It’s Invaluable in Emergency Situations

    Arguably the most common reason why people carry paracord is for its use in emergency situations. Rig a shelter by tying branches together when there’s nowhere else to sleep. Cut the cord, pull out the inner threads, attach a hook and you have a makeshift fishing line. Break a bone while out in the bush? Use the cord and a stiff branch to fashion a splint until you can seek further medical help. Simple sprain? It’s easy to make a sling to keep weight off the hurt appendage. If the situation is really serious, use the cord as a tourniquet to stop bleeding.

  2. It Gives a Good Grip

    If it’s not an emergency sitution, paracord can still come in handy. The material is slightly elastic. This allows for easy and snug wrapping around EDC gear. Some small fixed blade knives employ a skelteon frame handle. Wrapping a length of paracord around it not only provides grip, but keeps an unbroken length of the material at hand.

  3. It Personalizes Your Carry in a Practical Way

    Paracord is available in a huge range of colors and patterns, allowing you to accessorize and personalize your EDC. It can be used to set off a certain color theme or let you carry your own DIY handiwork. At its core, it still provides the functionality of paracord.

  4. It Makes Retrieving Gear from Your Pocket Easier

    Most knives have a lanyard hole, and paracord is the perfect match for it. A paracord lanyard is great if you’d prefer to carry a pocket knife without a clip. It’s as easy as slipping some through the hole and tying it off. With some knot-tying skills, you can whip up lanyards of different shapes and patterns to carry more cordage or fine tune extra material for grip on your tool. Pulling on this extra length can produce gear from your pocket more conveniently than digging around for it, while still keeping a low profile carry.

  5. It Adds Visibility to Your Essentials

    Brightly colored paracord increases visibility, making your essentials easier to find and harder to lose. This is especially useful in bags, pouches, and organizers with interiors that don’t contrast your gear.

How to EDC It

While long lengths of paracord consume a lot of space, there are efficient ways to EDC smaller amounts. It’s not hard to make a “survival bracelet” out of paracord and a clip. If you’re not feeling crafty, they’re available from several companies pre-made in tons of colors. Use similar braiding methods to make belts, camera straps, keychains and more. It’s not uncommon to see paracord used in place of bootlaces. If you have some room to spare in your bug out bag, throw in a hank of paracord and keep it organized with a carabiner. Keeping a spare length in the trunk of your car makes it easy to tie down large packages that are too big to close the trunk on.

MIL-C-5040-H Paracord

First place to start is the paracord itself. It’s available in a dozen colors in multiple lengths. Whether it’s olive drab green or bright orange, there’s sure to be an option for everyone. This particular cord is made to MIL-C-5040-H specs, meaning it’s the toughest out there. It’s tested for 750lbs of breaking force, making it ideal for every EDC situation.

BUY ($9)

The Friendly Swede Trilobite Paracord Bracelet

The Friendly Swede has done all of the work for you with their Trilobite paracord bracelets. Available in several colors and sporting a heavy duty shackle closure mechanism, this bracelet packs a lot of paracord in a small package. This weaving method makes the cord more easily retrievable than other braiding methods, allowing you access to the cord as soon as you need it.

BUY ($12)

The Spool Tool

The Spool Tool is the ultimate solution for carrying and finishing paracord. Wrap up to 100 feet of cord around the spool and use the integrated tools for cord finishing. There’s a razor blade for cutting and a holder for a small lighter for finishing the frayed ends of the cord. Made of light weight plastic, the frame lessens the impact on your EDC.

BUY ($17)

Izule ESEE Knife / Survival Kit

The Izula by ESEE is a popular EDC blade with an open frame handle, making it well-suited for paracord wrapping. This survival kit includes a black powder coated knife, a length of paracord, a cord lock, several split rings, a frustrater rod, an emergency whistle and a plastic snap hook. This is everything you’d need should something go wrong.

BUY ($62)

To Wrap It Up…

We’ve shown you what paracord is, why it can be useful in everyday situations, and some great ways to carry it. If you’ve been on the fence about adding some paracord to your EDC, there are several easy ways to do so. Whether you’re wearing a paracord bracelet or keep a 100’ hank in your trunk, this cordage is sure to come in handy. Do you already incorporate paracord into your EDC? Let us know how and why in the comments below!

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A simple way to add some paracord to your EDC aside from the standard bracelet is to wrap the handle of you bag using one of the standard weaves. It not only adds comfort to the nylon handle on my laptop backpack but it gives me around 25 ft of readily available cordage if I need it.
Thanks for another great article, rightly giving some examples of the many uses of paracord, especially as an EDC. Perhaps worth mentioning is an unusual variant of US 550 paracord. Appearing the same, on closer inspection, a thicker red thread can be found amongst the usual suspects. This is US 550 FireCord, the red cord acting as an effective waterproof tinder in an emergency. Only an inch is needed to conflagrate, Once used the remaining paracord remains viable for one of your suggested uses, or knot a loop to your knife or firesteel. More details here:
http://www.thebushcraftstore.co.uk/us-550-firecord-388-c.asp
Come on baby, light my fire.
An essential item on each and every camping and backpacking trip I've ever done. You may not need it every time, but when you do you're always glad you brought some. I've also found a good substitute for those who don't want to carry cord, this stuff http://gearward.com/collections/frontpage/products/compact-survival-cord-small-kevlar
I actually googled "frustrater rod" cause I was like wth is that? Ohh...firestarter rod.
I've got the Trilobite paracord bracelet and wear it everywhere. I've also wrapped the handle of my bag in paracord, a good 20ish feet of it, and all my EDC gear (flashlight, knife, keys, multitool) has a length or lanyard of bright blue glow-in-the-dark paracord on it, both for personalization and so I can find it in a dark theatre. It actually glows surprisingly well. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AXUCNTI?psc=1&%3Bredirect=true&%3Bref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00&tag=bg999-20
What I like to do is tie it in a monkey fist knot and attach it to smaller stuff. I would've lost my Tiny victorinox a million times by now of it weren't for that ball if rope
I found that something as simple as clipping a bracelet onto a bag is a great way to have some extra cordage on hand. Not only do you get an easy 10 to 20 feet of paracord at
your disposal but it is also a great way to make your bag stand out from all of the others. A bracelet is extremely easy to spot at an airport luggage claim or somewhere like that.
I typically wear either a cobra braid or trilobite braid paracord bracelet. The knife I have attached to my edc bag has the handle wrapped in paracord as well. Once I get my new bag, I plan on keeping about 50' of paracord in it at all times.
I'm a hunter and have found so many times when paracord comes in handy. You never know when, in a survival or everyday situation, you will need a length of cordage. As the article states, there are so many uses. If anyone out there is looking to learn some cool knots or braids for easy storage or "practical" decoration, I recommend checking out "The Weavers of Eternity Paracord Tutorials" on youtube. Great videos with clear, simple instruction on a wide variety of braids and a few practical knots.
I always carry some when I travel. While in Morocco, I fixed a friend's suitcase with para cord and gaffer tape. Nothing permanent, but just enough to get it working till they got home.
Thanks guys, I'm going to get the spool tool. Mike
Picked one up for myself and brother when they first came out. They are very practical and useful not only for storage but to load up and use to as your first stop for cord rather than mess with a 1000ft spool.
What an amazing article! Great installment on the Carry Smarter series with great and valuable information! I believe that the paracord bracelets are a bit bulky for everyday, casual wear but I'm definitely going to make one! Paracord lanyards are definitely the best way for me to have some paracord on you!
I don't know about a tourniquet. It may be too thin and when you crank down it could possibly just cut into appendage. However, I carry a tourniquet so i can be picky.
I use the Boker gnome as a small and strong EDC knife. It came with a ball chain for my neck. As I am not too fond of these ball chains thought they are safe and break when caught. I used the outer paracord sleeve to cover the ball chain. Leaving a small piece uncovered for safety. The ends seal perfect with the chain when heated.
I've got the izzy (esee izula) wrapped, and its good. ive never needed more at a time than what is around its handle but ive got a 8" king cobra weave (what, 15-18ft of cord?) on a steel shackle that's been hanging around just in case.
Very informative article Bernard! I especially like the spool tool , that will help my not so nimble fingers!
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